Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

French Open: Sabalenka loses, chance for Serena

- Agencies

PARIS: Third seed Aryna Sabalenka was dumped out of the French Open in the third round on Friday by Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchen­kova, leaving Serena Williams as the highest-ranked player left in her half of the draw. Russian 31st seed Pavlyuchen­kova won 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 and will meet Victoria Azarenka for a place in the quarter-finals.

Sabalenka joins top seed Ashleigh Barty and second-seeded Naomi Osaka in exiting the tournament in the first week.

Williams, chasing a recordequa­lling 24th Grand Slam title, tackles Danielle Collins later Friday in her third round tie.

Sabalenka had defeated 29-year-old Pavlyuchen­kova just a month ago in the Madrid quarter-finals on clay. However, on Friday she was undone by 39 unforced errors as her poor record at the majors continued. Sabalenka is yet to make a quarter-final at the Slams.

The women’s competitio­n this year has seen 2019 champion Barty retire injured in the second round.

Reigning US and Australian Open champion Osaka withdrew after the first round having been fined and threatened with expulsion for refusing to honour media commitment­s.

Simona Halep, the world number three and 2018 champion, didn’t even make it to Paris after suffering a calf injury.

Pavlyuchen­kova was a quarter-finalist in Paris in 2011 while her win on Friday was her 37th over a top 10 player.

Player arrested

A tennis player suspected of match-fixing last year has been arrested in Paris during the French Open, the Paris prosecutor’s office said Friday.

According to French newspaper Le Parisien, which first reported the story, the player is 765th-ranked Yana Sizikova of Russia. The prosecutor’s office confirmed to The Associated Press that a “women’s internatio­nal player” was in custody, but it did not identify her.

The player was arrested Thursday night on charges of “sports bribery and organized fraud for acts likely to have been committed in September 2020,” the prosecutor’s office said.

An investigat­ion was opened last October by a French police unit specializi­ng in betting fraud and match-fixing. It has previously worked with Belgian authoritie­s investigat­ing suspected fixed matches at the lower levels of profession­al tennis.

The prosecutor’s office said the probe centered on suspicions about one match at Roland Garros last year. It did not specify the match. German newspaper Die Welt and French sports daily L’equipe said at the time there were suspicious betting patterns in the first round of a women’s doubles match on Sept. 30.

On that day, Sizikova and partner Madison Brengle of the United States played on Court No. 10 against Romanian players Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig. Sizikova was broken to love serving in game five of the second set, during which she double faulted twice.

Le Parisien reported Friday that tens of thousands of euros were bet with several operators in different countries on the

Romanian players winning this game.

The newspaper said that Sizikova was arrested Thursday after losing in the first round of the doubles tournament at Roland Garros. The newspaper said authoritie­s searched Sizikova’s hotel room.

It wasn’t immediatel­y known if Sizikova has an attorney to respond on her behalf. Last year’s French Open, delayed because of the coronaviru­s pandemic, was played in late September and early October.

Meanwhile, two of tennis’s governing bodies have promised to review the impact of the press on players’ mental health after Naomi Osaka stunned the sporting world by walking out of the French Open to place the issue firmly in the spotlight.

Roland Garros organisers, the French tennis federation (FFT), said no changes will be made regarding players’ press responsibi­lities for the ongoing edition of the claycourt Grand Slam.

Yet the global governing body, the Internatio­nal Tennis Federation (ITF), has promised a comprehens­ive review.

 ?? REUTERS ?? Third seed Aryna Sabalenka during her match against Anastasia Pavlyuchen­kova.
REUTERS Third seed Aryna Sabalenka during her match against Anastasia Pavlyuchen­kova.

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